Call for US ban on NZ imports over netting of dolphins

2:40 pm on 7 February 2019

Conservation group Sea Shepherd has asked United States law makers to ban imports of New Zealand seafood due to the threat it says fishers pose to endangered Maui dolphins.

Maui dolphin.

Maui dolphin. Photo: Earthrace Conservation / Liz Slooten

It accused them of not doing enough to prevent their capture in nets and pointed to estimates there were only 57 of them left.

The group had petitioned the US Congress to trigger its Marine Mammal Protection Act.

This banned imports when foreign vessels were not doing enough to prevent the by-catch of mammals.

Spokesperson Michael Lawry pointed to the same issue being brought in over the critically-endangered vaquita dolphin in Mexico.

"Last year in the vaquita case, imports from the vaquita habitat in the Gulf of California are now banned in the US, so it's a very powerful piece of legislation."

A spokesperson for industry group Seafood New Zealand, Tim Pankhurst, slammed the move from Sea Shepherd.

He maintained current protections in place for the dolphins were working.

"These include prohibitions on the use of set nets and trawls up to seven nautical miles throughout almost all of Maui known habitat range, between Maunganui Bluff and Hawera."

He said there had been no reported captures of Maui dolphins in nets since 2012.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs